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Journal: Blaming America First

Journal by QuackQuack

Found an article in Mother Jones (a Liberal publication) that sums up a lot of the feelings I was trying to express in my last entry:

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2002/01/blaming.html

United States

Journal: Free Expression, the war, the flag etc.

Journal by QuackQuack

Recently Ian Anderson, frontman for the British Rock Band Jethro Tull made some comments about the Americans flying the flag, the war in Iraq and other things that have caused quite a stir in the Classic Rock community.

Now, I have tremendous respect for Ian Anderson, and Tull. Unlike most entertainers who spout off, he is actually articulate, thoughtful, and an original thinker. And he did apologize for the tone of his remarks, saying he misunderstood Americans, and he is basically distressed by the slagging the US and UK are taking from the rest of Europe, and he thinks blind flag waving doesn't help this.

Understood.

But this mentality is not unique to Anderson, and many are not so "understanding".

1. There seems to be a perception that if you fly or display a flag, you are some kind of Nascar-watching, ignorant dolt.

2. Conversly, if you trash this behavior, as well as other aspects of America, it somehow makes you appear intelligent.

3. The current spate of flag-waiving was from the grass-roots. After 9/11, everybody wanted one, and put them everywhere. The govt didn't even have to suggest it, which critics seem to imply happened.

It is possible that you can both be intelligent, know that everything about America isn't perfect and still love your country. I know this isn't in vogue, but there are a great many people who feel this way.

Also, displaying the flag is a form of free expression. Just like complaining about it in an interview is. So is boycotting someone who pissed you off in an interview. Entertainers who spout off always seem to complain about their rights being infringed, forgetting others have rights as well. Ian didn't actually do this, but other entertainers have, Tim Robbins comes to mind, as does Barbara Streisand after the Reagan movie was yanked by CBS, they seem to think that only they have first ammendment rights. Most Americans don't have the "right" to get an interview of themselves published, or make a movie and have CBS show it.

Going back to the original Ian interview, he did say some other odd things. One was that you don't see Europeans waving their flag other than at sporting matches. What is that supposed to suggest? That America should be more like Europe? Maybe Europeans don't love their own countries as much as Americans love theirs? Maybe with good reason? When you have the EU dictating how politics in your country should be... When you have 10% unemployment (Germany). America is not like Europe, nor should it be.

His comments on the Iraq war itself were rather bizarre. He essentially said that it's not even a real war, just a piddly little invasion. Here is where I think he really misses the point.

Maybe in his mind Flag waiving = Nationalism (He brought it up)
Nationalism = Need for country to prove itself
Country prooves itself by launching a "war" against another country, but the other country is no match for even your tiny invasion force.

If that's his line of reasoning, he's mistaken. Being able to kick Saddam or the Taliban out does nothing for our national pride. The wars are about dismantling the terrorist power structure to help prevent another 9/11 style attack (or worse). Only time will tell whether the war in Iraq helps this cause.

That brings me to the next point. He also said that the sanctions/weapon inspections were working fine. Fine?? Were the Iraqi people better off under Saddam? (The president asked this very question in a speech in the UK today, a BBC analyst called it a clever piece of rhetoric. Whatever. )
Before Bush decided to go to war^H^H^Hinvasion, the Iraq sanctions were one of the biggest bones of contention of the "Blame America First" crowd to show the injustice perpertrated by this country. When war^H^H^Hinvasion looked inevitable, they were the ones who started crowing that sanctions were working just fine.

As I said, time will judge Iraq. Right now the opponents are proclaiming "See, no WMD!", "No Al-qaeda connection". On the second point, I recently wrote in this journal about new evidence that seems to shatter that claims (time will tell). As for WMDs, if Saddam truly did not have them, why did he not prove it in 1998 and get the sanctions lifted, instead of kicking out the inspectors? Why did he not let inspectors back in until the last moment? Was that just a bluff?

If I was a leader of a country who was about to be invaded by another that I could not hope to beat unless I proved that I don't have something that I didn't have. I'd do what I could to show that I didn't have it in front of the whold international community, and embarass them in the process, and get my sanctions lifted.

But I'm not Saddam.

United States

Journal: New CIA memo links Iraq and Al Qaeda

Journal by QuackQuack

A CIA memo detailing Iraqi Al-Qaeda links from 1990 through 2003 has surfaced. This could prove to be quite a bombshell, but what's curious is the silence of the "mainstream" media on this. Sure the story was broken in a conservative publication, but does that automatically make it an invalid story?

A lot of people attempt to claim that liberal media bias is some kind of "right-wing fantasy", but if that's so, then why is the "mainstream" press ignoring this memo, underplayed the Democrat memo suggesting the politicization of intelligence as a 2004 campaign strategy, but make a big fuss about the Rumsfeld memo that was nothing more than a series of discussion points for an upcoming staff meeting?

Updated: Oops, I forgot the CIA memo that said that more Iraqis are joining the insurgents. That one got a good deal of press as well.

The two memos that are bad new for the Bush administration get a lot of press and are exagerated. ("Rumsfeld Questions War", "CIA warns that Iraqs are turning against us" (gee, watching the press coverage gave me the impression that they were ALREADY against us, but I digress)).

Out of the two that are good for the Bush administration, one is ignored, the other is simply portrayed as the usual Republican/Democrat bickering.

No Liberal Bias?

Update: The Washington Post ran a story, of course not so much about the memo's contents as on a CIA probe into how it got leaked. Also they got quotes from two experts casting doubt on the content of the memo. One "unnamed" (love that) expert said that the memo contained "data points . . . many of which are simply not thought likely to be true.". Well if "many" are untrue, that implies that some ARE true. The nature of intelligence is that you get an amount of good and bad intelligence, and you have to sift through and figure out which and try to piece together a puzzle.

This still shatters the belief that there was no evidence of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection.

The other story that is getting some play is the DOD press release on this subject. Some reports are saying that the DOD "debunked" this memo. That is not true. The DOD is denying reports that it CONFIRMED an Iraq/Al-qaeda connection in the memo. It also says that this document is sort of an index of intelligence documents on the subject, not intelligence itself.

User Journal

Journal: Chomsky calls US "The Best Country in the World"

Journal by QuackQuack

Noam Chomsky, yes, that Chomsky, in an interview in the Hindustan Times, when asked if he ever considered leaving the US permentanly, actually responded "No, this is the best country in the world."

http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_449258,00120003.htm

In just about everything I've read from Chomsky, he seems to have disdain for all things American, so this is a bit of a shocker.

User Journal

Journal: John Kerry and MtBE

Journal by QuackQuack

Can the Democrat presidential candidates be honest about anything?

The latest example is John Kerry in New Hampshire blaming Bush, the GOP and faceless oil/gas companies over MtBE in the ground water, which is apparently a problem for some who have wells in NH.

Well, the reason MtBE is added to gas at all is because MtBE causes gasoline to be burned more efficiently, meaning fewer emissions, as required by the 1990 Clean Air Act ammendments. But MtBE also moves through the ground efficiently and can enter water supplies, so we've effectively swapped one environmental for another.

But in Kerry's world, it can't possibly be Congresses fault, can it? This isn't exactly a new issue, it's been around since the 70s, when MtBE was first used in Gas, during which time The Dems have held Congress and the Presidency at various points. If they're so concerned about this, then why didn't they do something when they could?

Some have also claim that Ethanol interests in the US are activly hyping and pushing this issue. Because Ethanol can be used as a replacement for MtBE. This may be true, as I've found press releases from the Missouri Corn Growers association on this topic.

United States

Journal: The trouble with Democrats

Journal by QuackQuack

The whole Howard Dean/Confederate Flag flap illustrates a lot of what is wrong with the Democratic party, and why their power keeps slipping away.

First of all, it is calling up negative stereotypes about southerners. Imagine if some Republican had said "We need to bring more African Americans into our party, I want to be the candidate for the blacks eating their watermelon and fried chicken and singing in gospel chiors.". I'm sure you can imagine the outrage. Dean's statement is probably just as offensive to white southerners as the statement above would be for blacks. It illustrates the elitist, I'm better than you are attitude of northeasterners that many southerners resent. To put it mildly, it's not going to make him the candidate for the people he wants to bring into the party. Neither is Al Sharpton's rebuttal, which essentially said, "I don't want those types of people in my party". In fact, the only candidate who seems to even comprehend the problem is southerner John Edwards. The rest of the candidates seem to see Deans comment as offensive to only Blacks. It's Political Correctness at it's worst. (it's OK to offend some groups but not others)

Dean is right that Democrats need to make progress in the south, which used to be solidly Democrat, but has been steadily slipping away from them, and is now almost solidly Republican. But Dean is unwittingly demonstrating that he's part of the problem.

The other part that Democrats don't get is the Confederate flag. To them it is nothing but a racist symbol as it only signifies slavery. Any historian will tell you that the Civil War was not just about slavery, but other issues as well. The confederate flag is part of the heritage and identity of the south to many southerners. Flying it doesn't automatically make you racist anymore than it means that you want to seceed from the Union. Even Liberal Tom Petty flew it for many years at his concerts. Slavery used be legal in the US, and the US did mean things to the native people, but do we see the US flag as a racist symbol? (Well some liberals have argued that, but don't expect to hear that from a Democrat who wants to be elected). Condemn racist acts, but don't expect to win friends by trying to deprive someone of their identity.

The Democrats like to think of themselves as the party of tolerance. In practice, the are tolerant of some, but not others. This puts many people off. Why they cannot see this, I don't know. I guess they are too busy blaming their failings on some "Vast Right-wing Conspiracy" that cheats them out of their rightful votes. In truth, Democrats NEED the south if they want to win back the White House. There hasn't been a Democrat elected President since JFK that wasn't from the South. But it's clear they have no idea how to win there, and their only hope right now is that Dubya seriously implodes.

Science

Journal: Organic Food not always safer than non-organic

Journal by QuackQuack

Apparantly they are finding unacceptable levels of
fumonisin, a toxin produced by molds that grow on grains in organic cornmeal in the UK. Every sample tested was at least 7X the acceptible limit!

Fumonisin is a known carcinogen, and causes other maladies.

The reason this is a problem for organic corn, is there are no fungicides used.

http://www.techcentralstation.com/110503E.html
http://www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/moremaize

The Media

Journal: Anti-American; 9/11 conspiracy theories on the rise

Journal by QuackQuack

There was news that some French group put out a deck of cards with US leaders. Fine, lots of people have created their own spoof of the Iraqi deck. However, the person behind this new deck..

is the author of a one-time French best seller, "9-11: The Big Lie," claiming that no plane ever crashed into the Pentagon on Sept. 11, and that the attacks were plotted by a faction within the U.S. military.

It used to be that it was only the Arab world that would believe such theories, but now they are popping up everywhere.

Theories such as the US plans to invade 7 other nations after Iraq, the Bush team invented the Iraq WMD evidence. (When everyone, even the previous administration believed it). Sure there was some bad evidence mixed in with the good (the African "Yellowcake"). Nobody, apart from Scott Ritter, argued against the existance of WMDs, and Ritter was singing a different tune in '98 when he left Iraq as an inspector.

Let's examine the facts: 9/11 happened. Bin Laden admitted planning it on tape, it was not the CIA or Mousad. Iraq definately had WMDs and WMD programs at one time, they've never been entirely forthcoming with the inspectors, and they've been caught lying about the scope of their programs before by the inspectors. Iraq kicked the inspectors out. Clinton nearly went to War himself over this, and he did launch a bombing campaign on Baghdad.

Even without the spector of WMD, few would argue that Saddam's Iraq was one of the most brutal places in the world. Should we have continued to let the Iraqi people suffer under sanctions? Should we have lifted Sanctions and let Saddam rebuild his arsenal and do whatever? None of these options, including war were morally desirable.

But now none of that seems to matter anymore, America, and especially the Bush administration are being portrayed as more evil than Saddam ever was. Or as Dennis Miller put it, "Everyone [in the administration] is Hitler, except for the foreign guy with the mustache dropping human beings into the wood chipper".

Technology

Journal: Worried about losing your job overseas?

Journal by QuackQuack

Worried about your job going overseas, and ending up as a burger flipper despite having a CS degree?

Much has been made in the media over the past year about hi-tech jobs being shipped overseas to workers making a fraction of what their US counterparts do.

Of course coming out of a long labor slump, with unemployment at 9-year highs, these stories resonate easily. Jobs were being sent overseas in 1998 and 1999 too, but you didn't see it reported because jobs were so plentiful here then, that nobody cared.

What doesn't get reported much is the coming labor shortage caused by a shift in demographics... Baby boomers will start retiring in large numbers, and there just aren't enough workers to replace them.

I've seen this reported in a few places, but Business 2.0 has just run a story on it called The Coming Job Boom. This is the best one I've seen yet, with charts showing job growth vs. labor force size, etc.

To summarize this article.

  1. A labor crunch is guaranteed even if the US only experiences a meager 3% annual GDP growth rate. (Most recent reading was 3.1% BTW)
  2. The effect of Boomers retiring later, more H1Bs, workforce automation, and overseas outsourcing won't be enough to negate the US labor crunch, article explains why on each point.
  3. Most of the fastest growing professions will be in tech. I know this may seem hard to believe now, but here is a quote from the article: ...But Sargent, an authority on economic measurement, defends the BLS numbers, calling them the "closest you get to absolute objectivity." To assume that the [tech] sector's current weakness is permanent makes no more sense than believing in 1999 that the gravy train would never end. Several studies show that where the bureau [BLS] has erred, it has traditionally underestimated demand for tech.
  4. We should start seeing the first signs of this crunch in 2005.
  5. Most companies aren't doing enough to prepare for the crunch. They should be working on key employee retention now. Instead, many are taking advantage of the labor market weakness, cutting benefits, raises, perks, hiring people for less than the going rate.
  6. Analysts like Forrester and Gartner are overstating the number of jobs that will be outsourced to India and elsewhere. The article even suggests that Forrester may be trying to drum up business for its own outsourcing consultancy business.

The next time you see a doom-and-gloom article about tech jobs going overseas, this is a good article to refer to keep a sense of balance and optimism.

User Journal

Journal: SCO unravelling

Journal by QuackQuack

So the first bits of leaked code look like they were derived from Unix, but it looks like they are in Linux legally, and ironically Caldera may have given the license to allow this.

I wonder if heads will roll at SCO over this leak.

Hopefully this turns the tables and puts SCO on the defensive. They will probably have to release more code without NDA to convince people that they do have a leg to stand on.

I think it's a good time to short SCOX...

This Journal entry was sponsored by IBM for an undisclosed sum of money.

User Journal

Journal: BBC Talkback

Journal by QuackQuack

I've long suspected that the BBC talkback/Have your say has a political bias in determining what they publish on the site. They've never published any of my comments, (so I gave up trying), but it seems like they'll give a high priority to any anti-American/anti-Bush comment no matter how silly.

Today they have a talkback on "Are you Affected" by the power outage that hit the US and Canada. Keep in mind that the order the comments appear in is NOT Chronological (sometimes new comments appear before older ones, sometimes after so apparently the editors determine the order). Here was the first comment:

All I have to say is that Bush and his administration should be held responsible for all this mess in the United States.
Preston, USA

Not only is this comment offtopic, it's silly, since it's not just the US grid we're talking about here. We very rarely see events like this, so is it really such a disaster? Here's another:

...The worst part is that Bush did not address the people for hours. The obvious fact that this was not an accident was completely denied through the media and government.
Lawrence Teten, US

Oh yeah, they love to print conspiratorial comments to, for whatever reason. I guess this comment is insinuating that it was terrorism, but the govt and media is covering that up. Why would they? Terrorist acts do wonders for politicians approval ratings and national unity.

Oh well... Next time I waste my time reading one of these talkbacks, and get aggrivated and am tempted to waste my time sending in my own, I'll have this entry to remind me not to bother.

In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain. -- Pliny the Elder

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